Lies won’t bring investment into Zimbabwe
By Conrad Nyamutata
In the midst of the dogfight for power in Zanu PF, Finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa, has, to an extent, managed to keep his eyes on the ball.
Presently, every other minister has his or her eye cast on the future, seeking to align with the next potential patron.
With Grace Mugabe emerging as an actor in determining her husband’s successor, ministers, to take Karikoga Kaseke’s advice to his wife, have also ensured that they are “seen” (noticed) at such gatherings.
Add to that time, expended on travelling, dismantling rival political structures, plotting and fighting, it is unquestionable that there is loss of focus on national needs.
Quantifying the loss in missed opportunities, delayed decisions and so on will require a comprehensive inquiry.
To his credit though, Chinamasa has been engaging potential investors, most recently British and Danish government delegations, and last week, potential South African investors.
For a long time, Zanu PF thumbed its noses at potential investors because of its anti-West neurosis, banking on its black economic empowerment model to vivify the economy.
It was delusional to eschew long-established global business convention; even developed countries are desperate for investment.
Government’s re-engagement with potential investors represents a sensible paradigm shift.
Still, the level of uncertainty occasioned by the current power tussles cannot be alluring.
It will take a Kamikaze investor to invest in a country where threats of violence abound, a vice president is publicly humbled, stitched up for treason and eventually elbowed out at the whim of the country’s rabid First Lady.
Let’s face it, if reports that Zanu PF has amended its constitution so Mugabe cannot appoint his deputies, Joice Mujuru’s fate is as good as sealed.
There is not a snowball’s chance in hell of Mujuru being one of them.
The political developments over the past months would have created a sense of instability and insecurity among potential investors.
Of late, Chinamasa has adopted a conciliatory tone, signalling intention to re-engage with the global community.
However, with the uncertainty and Mugabe still the face of the country, for at least the next three years, Zimbabwe remains a hard sell.
In September, he was quoted as saying all whites must leave, only for Emmerson Mnangagwa to tone down the comments, telling Parliament Mugabe meant whites should now give black farmers a chance or something to that effect.
The damage had already been done because the sentiment comported with the established external perception of Zimbabwe since the farm invasions that whites were not welcome.
It does not help when a racial group holding most of the foreign capital appears a target. Apart from eliminating these contradictions, the messages have to be honest.
In South Africa, Chinamasa said Zimbabwe “never” infringed property rights “apart from the land reform” which was only a “political issue.”
There is an obvious contradiction in the statement, let alone a disturbing suggestion that political issues may not be subjected to the law.
By his own admission, Zimbabwe did violate property rights in the name of a perceived greater good.
Still, we cannot justify trumping the law or rights expediently. No investor will want to invest in the knowledge that he can lose his money or property in the name of some higher or “revolutionary” cause.
Perhaps the most outrageous claim by Chinamasa after meeting the Danish visitors was that corruption was a result of sanctions.
It is unsurprising, because the Zanu PF government has sought to explain away every adversity by citing sanctions.
Once, even our beleaguered VP, after being trapped in a lift at the Zanu PF headquarters, also claimed the malfunction was a result of sanctions.
The sanctions-corruption correlation is just as preposterous. Official corruption in particular had taken root well before 2000.
Willowgate, Noczim, VIP Housing Loan, GMB and DRC scandals, to cite only a miniscule, preceded the measures.
Lies will not bring investment. It is better to assure investors of robust measures to uphold the law, than seek to justify misdemeanour.